I love this friggin’ country. Where else on this earth would you have a day like I had? I woke up in a soft bed, having had a restful, uninterrupted night of sleep. After using clean water and modern plumbing to get us all ready, I fed my family milk, fresh fruit and whole wheat grains for breakfast. We then spent the day enjoying a clean and beautiful park where my children played freely with other children from a number of different cultural backgrounds. They then rested in our home that’s nestled on a safe street and then enjoyed television while I checked the news until their father came home from his secure place of work. The family played while I enjoyed a party whereat I learned how to make sofritos and Spanish rice from a Lebanese woman who learned the recipe from a Puerto Rican woman. I was home in time to then replicate a recipe from one of my family’s favorite French restaurants. I don’t mean to brag –wait. On second thought, yes I do! This country is not without its benefits and all of our luxuries should be celebrated.
No, our country is not without its faults. I am aware that there are many in this country still without work. There are individuals, children and families who are hungry every day. For their sake and for the sake of our nation I do pray that our economic climate improves post haste. There’s also the whole oil debacle that remains salient in all of our minds. I also pray we never forget those still suffering the fallout from all of our natural disasters. What I love about this country is that we have an educational system whereat we can learn scientific and administrative know-how to help with these issues. We also have the constitutional right of freedom of the press that ensures our news sources access and freedom to report current events.
Whether you choose to catch up on your current events from printed publications, online, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or somewhere in between, you cannot deny the privileges related to being a citizen of this great country. Don’t agree with me? Remember my aforementioned statement the next time you make a medical appointment or when you see a school bus of children being delivered safely home.
We are within days of the celebration of our nation’s independence day. Regardless of where I am at in this country during this time of year, I love listening to the radio on the days surrounding this holiday because I am invariably going to hear the song “America the Beautiful” played a number of times. The first lyrics of this song always remind me of the beauty and benefits this great country has to offer. As with all songs, I am sure its lyrics may mean something different to you, but here is what this song means to me…
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies…
I have done a bit of travel and can honestly say that it is my opinion that the United States is home to some of the most picturesque sites in the world. When leaving densely populated cities in any direction, you are sure to see some beautiful, lush rural areas with gorgeous cloud formations above. Sure, some cities are smoggy but our country allows for groups like the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) to congregate freely for better protection of the land we stand on, the waters we swim in and the air that we all breathe. It is because of the efforts of groups like these and a system that allows for legislation of environmental laws that generations to come will be able to enjoy some of the most amazing sunsets and clear starry nights.
For amber waves of grain…
I don’t claim to know a lot about the farming industry in this country, but I have done social work in other countries wherein its citizens were not even allowed to own the land they worked on. I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a system where farmers can, for the most part, read the market and then make their own decisions as to how their land will be used and what crops will be grown in its soil.
I always find it funny that the United States has a market for cookbooks directed specifically at the “problem” of picky eaters. The very fact that the children in this country have the luxury of taking issue with what type of nourishment they will have during any of their three to six meal/snack times throughout the day would probably seem absurd to the children of Africa who have to fend for themselves and ration meager morsels between themselves and younger siblings.
My friend Stephanie is always celebrating the fresh produce that is made readily available to her. I recommend checking out any of her posts and diving into preparations in making one of her culinary concoctions!
For purple mountain majesties…
The United States is home to some amazing National Parks. In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant saw the value in the nature of this country and signed into law Yellowstone National Park as this country’s first national park. Lawmakers continued in their efforts in preserving the beauty of the United States with the Organic Act of 1916, creating the National Park Service (www.nps.gov). These efforts continue today. On April 11, 2011, the Great Smokey Mountain National Park was formed, preserving this area for future generations. Some other beautiful mountainous areas include Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains which became a National Park by President Wilson on January 26, 1916 (www.estes.on-line.com) and Mount Rainier which was made a National Park on March 2, 1899 by President McKinley.
If you haven’t enjoyed the treasure that is these National Parks yet, I recommend visiting www.nps.gov to begin taking in some of the amazing scenery and wildlife housed within this country’s borders. You could take some notes from Mac and make an easy vaca out of a short trip to any one of our National Parks. If you’re looking for short-trip destination ideas, I personally think that Mount Shasta is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It offers year-round outdoor adventures for those willing to take in all its beauty.
Above the fruited plain…
Even though these lyrics refer to the “location of the purple mountains” as being “above the plains that are filled with fruits” (www.wikianswers.com), I like to give even more meaning to these words. When I think about our “fruited plain” I think about how the rich soil in the United States has benefited local growers and organic farming. In recent years, our citizens have enjoyed an increasing amount of locally and organically grown goods and produce. To paint a better picture, “California remains the leading State in certified organic cropland, with over 430,000 acres, largely (over 40 percent) used for fruit and vegetable production.” (www.ers.usda.gov).
America, America God shed His grace on thee…
Obviously, this verse reminds me of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, Freedom of Religion. (www.usconstitution.net) . I agree with the closely related historical argument that the idea of separation of Church and State was originally intended to keep the State out of the Church. My travels and efforts in international social work have shown me that value in this ideal. I have been in countries where there are state churches and it seems absurd to me that a state would, at one time, try to dictate religion. At times, I have worked with citizens of other countries who had to hide in homes when congregating to practice their religion of choice.
I am thankful to live in a country where its citizens are free to practice their religion and spirituality without fear or threat of discrimination.
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea
When I consider the “brotherhood” of the United States, I think of all its citizens. Aside from Native Americans, the citizens of this country or their forefathers were all immigrants.
“It is the flag just as much of the man who was naturalized yesterday as of the men whose people have been here many generations.” – Henry Cabot Lodge
As a nation, we have gotten very good at going round and round in our talks about the issue of immigration. It is often during these discussions that I am reminded of the following quote…
“Finally, in my critique of the immigration image of America, it is also important to know that we’re not only a nation of immigrants, but we are in some part a nation of emigrants, which often gets neglected.”–Samuel P. Huntington
It is this fact that I choose to celebrate every Fourth of July. We, for the most part, are here by choice. The right to vote was part of the better life many would-be citizens of the United States sought. I have been involved in various campaigns, legislative and bill processes in this country and really admire its accessibility. Simply put, any citizen or group within this country can bring forward issues and follow a process to take the issue before elected lawmakers who can vote to have those issues made into law. Obviously there is much more to it than that but to narrate my point, I draw your attention to the recent bill that was passed in New York State, legalizing same-sex marriage. This particular bill highlighted the excitement of our legal process as it was over a hotly debated topic (approved 33 to 29) and its “fate was uncertain until moments before the vote”. (Confessore & Barbaro, June 24, 2011 www.nytimes.com).
Of course, none of us can celebrate any of our rights without first thanking those brave warriors who made our freedom possible.
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis
United States Veterans have paid a huge price for the sake of our freedom and should be thanked each day for their said sacrifice. It is this elite core of our brotherhood who should be regularly hailed as heroes for the bravery they have shown and the service they have given so that we can all have the liberties discussed above.
When gathering with our friends and loved ones this Fourth of July weekend let us reflect on the liberties this country affords us and those who gave so much for the brotherhood of its citizens.